This is my first time ever posting on a message board... Bear with me!
I am getting a spinal fusion on L4 to S1 and a laminectomy (removing bone spurs) on March 03, 2011. I hurt my back on Feb 23, 2010, herniating two discs at L4-L5 L5-S1 and compressing two (or three) nerve roots in the process. Over the year I have lost sensation along the nerve pathway in my left leg and developed a searing rod of pain down my right leg. In an attempt to alleviate my symptoms I have been forced (by the pain, not my doctors) to take a horrendous amount of pain meds, I have attended physio religiously and increased my core strength by 200% (I am only 110 Lbs to begin with) ... I have still been in excruciating pain for the last year. While I have a great team of professionals, including my amazing Family Doctor, Chiropractor, Physiotherapist, Kinesiologist and Occupational Therapist, I am still quaking in my boots at the prospect of this surgery. I should add that my surgeon is the head of orthopedic surgery for my area and has never had any major complications arise... I am in the best hands. Yet, I can't shake this feeling of impending doom.
I know that this is the only way to get my life back and that the surgery is the first step to my recovery, the beginning of the end of my suffering, but it scares me to death that I will be more immobile, that I will be in more pain. I didn't know pain could get worse.
I am a previously healthy, active and fit 25 year old and now I behave and move like I am elderly and arthritic. Over the last year, despite my best efforts, I have changed. Unfortunately, while all the close people around me have changing for the better, that is moving forward with their lives and plans, as is expected in you mid-late twenties (or I expect), I have been isolated and stagnant; caught in this prison of pain. No one really understands that it hurts to go out for coffe; I don't feel like shopping because it hurts to walk. While I certainly sound like a whiny little girl... I guess I just haven't really expressed any of this before... I just feel... I don't know.
I feel I should clarify that I have not, nor do I always feel this despair. But as my date creeps closer, my anxiety increases. I am usually so positive. I have pushed myself to maintain somewhat of a normal routine, (when I can sleep more than a couple of hours a night) I have stayed positive and motivated, and really I still am. I am just awfully scared too.
Did anyone feel this way before their operation? Did it turn out okay?? Any positive feedback would be so much appreciated. Please. I am aware of the risks and the possibility of being worse rather than better, but I really don't need to be any more afraid or negative.
Thank you for any support you are willing to provide, it is deeply appreciated.
I am the author of this post. I signed up for an account, so if you would like to contact me, feel free.
I am also scheduled for a possible fusion in March 2011 on L5/S1, first my surgeon is going to attempt an artificial disc replacement as I am a very active person and this will get me back on my feet faster as well as allow me to run again with less stress on my remaining discs. If he can't scrape enough of a space for the prosthetic then he will have to fuse.
I've also never posted online but felt compelled to write when I seen the young girl who is so nervous about her surgery. I wanted to let her know that she's not alone - you are not alone!
It's ok to feel nervous about your surgery, you would be odd if you never felt worried as it's all a big unknown. I'm 43 and have been disabled with back pain for over 3 years now. I could go on and on with the gory details but instead I think we should just look forward to the day in March when our lives will begin anew. You might have already noticed most of the people posting stuff on the internet are the ones who've had everything go wrong, thus most of what you read when you enter "fusion" into your search engine is something out of a bad nightmare. Thats because the people who have successful treatments and recoveries are too busy getting on with their lives to post! As a healthy young woman I'm sure you will be getting on with all the things someone your age should be doing in no time at all. I have a HUGE bucket list to tackle now that my youngest is 17 and my other 2 have flown the nest. I want to enter a triathlon, surf, and sky dive along with resuming all the other things I did before my back troubles - like snowboard, weight train and DANCE! To me my surgery date is the date when I will be born again into active life as I remember it. WooHoo!
Just so you don't feel alone in your fears I'll share my biggest worry, which is the immediate recovery in hospital because I hate being dependent or to seem weak. I also don't like to make my family worry or see me in pain (I'm really good at hiding behind a smile). But! I have to give in to these insecurities for a little while for my own longterm health. Once I'm back home in my own environment they'll have to post a guard to keep me still cause I'm sooooo ready to get moving again.
A positive attitude will carry you a long way, so think positive, believe in the success of your surgery and the healing process and it will become a reality for you! I know we will make it through and feel healthy again, just like so many before us :-)
I hope everything went well. I just had L4/L5 discoctomy in mid-February, and I am still pretty miserable. The pain is subsiding gradually, but the atrophy I suffered from non-activity is killing me. I injured the nerve root on Jan 1 of this year, (for the third time), and was unable to walk for weeks. So, the nerve is still angry.
I am seeing a personal trainer in New Orleans, and she is pretty diligent. It's helping.
Don't feel like a whiny baby. I have been through several serious injuries as a kid and as an adult, and this ranks among the worst. (I am including two severe concussions, amputation and reattachment of my left thumb, and numerous falls, crushing injuries, lacerations, et al.)
It's a cruel process. Hang in there. I will check this post periodically to see how you're doing.
Mike the Moose in New Orleans.
It is interesting that you posted today as I am celebrating a grim anniversary: I am one year post-op today. I don't even know where to begin here... Let's see...
Well, I had the surgery, obviously. It was a seven and a half hour procedure, my surgeon removed seventeen bone spurs, took out two discs and left me a pound heavier with my eight screws and two rods. On waking, I have to admit that minus the surgical pain, that is the pain of the six inch incision and my muscles protesting that they had been separated and moved, I did feel better. Before surgery I had no feeling along my S1 nerve in my left leg, and occasionally had twinges down the L5 nerve path, and on the right I had the iron hot poker down my S1. When I woke up my right leg didn't hurt and I actually had tingling in my left S1 for the first time in six months. While these were all incredibly good signs and I did improve more from there, one year later I would say my pain has resolved thirty percent. What I mean is if it was a 10 before surgery it is a 7 now. (Why do I rate my pain on a number scale? All my doctors, physios ect. have always asked me to "rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10", at first I didn't understand, I always thought my pain was an eight to ten, but as it gets more and more painful and you live longer and longer with your pain, you realize that what you previously thought was an eight was really only a six because the pain you have is so much more intense the before. This also has something to do with your pain system and pain killers. I have been on a cocktail for two years and I still haven't found one that addresses the nerve pain with more than a 20% reduction-in-severity rate. Some doctors believe that while, in my case for example, I do have legitimate and chronic pain, it is hard to gauge my pain level because my pain system is conditioned to be on 'quick-fire' to protect my back so sometimes I get signals of pain from things that shouldn't, and don't, hurt. It is hard to explain and is the subject of many, many books and papers, but that is my one sentence summary if the phenomena of pain. :P ) That long aside was to get to the point that while I have experienced a reduction in pain I have had some set backs...
For one, I am not sure how anyone goes back to work after six weeks, and I have to say that it used to really bug me when I heard that someone could return to work after only six weeks and I was told I had to lie down for whole day with the exception of two hours for a whole three months. During those two hours I showered, walked up and down the length of my apartment and tried to not lose my mind. It was mostly just boredom, and facing up to my physical limitations and pain tolerance, that really got to me. When I hurt my back I hadn't had time off ever... By that I mean I went from working about thirty hours a week in high school to save for college, to working the same to get myself through said college, then university and well... then I got a job as an assistant manager at a chain drug store. Anyone who knows retail management knows that they are long and grueling hours. So... Ten months into my first full time position and after working close to fifty hours a week for that time, I had no idea what to do with all my extra time... Especially because even after the injury I spent a year in physio trying to recover, I walked two and a half hours a day on top of my hour and a half routine of core strengthening a day and three sessions at physio and one a massage every week. My life was tailored around my recovery, and in many ways it still is.
Anyway, I guess the gist of that paragraph was to try and communicate how important it is to find a hobbies, (plural, one isn't enough as everything gets boring after a while!) something that takes your mind off of your situation. The more you dwell, the more you cry. The worse you feel emotionally, the worse you feel physically, the harder it is to sleep, the easier it is for you to become a mess. Haha, that is two years of back injury wisdom right there... every aspect of your life becomes about your backs health. I am not saying it is that way forever, but to truly recover from a surgery like this you have to follow your surgeons advice to the tee.
Right now, I am waiting to see why I have a re-emergence of the S1 nerve pain in my left leg. And the coral that was fused into the space between my discs isn't growing into the solid column of bone like it is supposed to. While my surgeon said that it is not really worrisome until eighteen months post-op, he is concerned that there is no growth and I am experiencing worsening nerve pain in the last two months.
I guess what I am trying to get at is that you need to find a way to stop crying. I am not saying don't cry once in a while, it is horrendous to deal with a severe back injury and everyone deserves the self pity and comfort of a good cry once in a while. But I dealt with this whole thing rather badly. I managed okay until after surgery but the last two months have been really hard, like you I am still very uncertain of my future, I am looking at another surgery... and I have become somewhat hopeless. Not that I have given up hope, rather I am hopeless now and for my immediate future. I have set so many goals throughout this ordeal that I couldn't achieve because of circumstances that are out of my control, and am so hard on myself when I fail, that I have lost hope in getting better soon.
Here is an example. My best friend got engaged when I was injured for about six months. She got married last July and at first my goal was to be able to be an active member of her wedding party. But then... In early April of last year I realized I really couldn't be a bridesmaid with any respect for the position since she lives four hours a way and there is no way for me to travel that far. She was getting married in July, four months post-op. I thought there would be no problem in going down for her bachelorette party but June rolled around and... Nope, my back wouldn't allow it even if I could afford the three hundred dollars it would take to get there and participate. There was no way. So now I had to say no to being a bridesmaid (I should add we discussed this thoroughly and she completely understood my limitations. There were no hard feelings on her part, I just felt so damned guilty.) I missed her bachelorette party and bridal shower and was feeling like the worst friend on earth. July came around and her wedding was set for the end of the month, normally a six hour drive from my home city. We left the day before around eight in the morning. Ideally, with normal traffic and no accidents, it would take five hours and fifty five minutes so we were set to get there in early afternoon. It was in Niagara Falls and we were looking forward to having Firday to us in the romantic city... but our early afternoon turned into arriving after five at night. We checked in to the seediest hotel I have ever stayed at... I am talking stand-up shower, dirty carpets and a burned out, boarded up room two doors down, and a sketchy looking couple drinking beer out of liter bottles in between us and the charred room. It had taken us nine hours to drive there. We got some dinner and went to bed. What? The biggest falls in the continent were blocks away? Who cares. My back is on fire, I just want to lie down thank you very much.
The next day I was so sore from the drive that I missed the pre wedding brunch with my BF and made it just in time for the ceremony. We then went to the reception and by 1230 I was dead and on the way back to my shitty hotel. I didn't even get to enjoy myself because I was in so much pain. The next day my boyfruend and I got into a massive row and well, the sad end to the story is we only say the falls in the 'most romantic city' from the car. Bust.
Okay so I am going to wrap this up, promise. This is the last thing. My depression has gotten unbearable at times. There are days that are filled with such soul sucking despair that I can barely pull myself out of bed. At times, showering has become a chore. I have lost my lust for life completely. Pain is incredibly draining. With all this said, I can't stress enough how important it is to stay positive! I haven't been ab;e to do it and I am sure it has hindered my progress. I say this in the hopes that while I haven't helped myself with this knowledge I may be able to help someone else with my experience.
There is a thorough account of my experiences leading up to and after my surgery on my blog if you would like to read a mroe thought out and complete version of events. I would be honoured if you checked it out. ***this post is edited by moderator *** *** web addresses not allowed***
All the Best!
Trust all went well with your surgery,and you are well on the mend. I had a lamenectomy in February, 2009. Lifting, falling down, overweight, etc. numerous. It then hit the nerve going down my leg, and killed the nerve end. The pain was worse than any labour I had with 2 children.
Surgery went well, I have no nerve end pain any more. However, I have very slow movement, numbness in my leg, and very little feeling in my foot. Unfortunately, there is nothing they can do, 'persay'. But, the deadly pain is gone.
The Doctor at the time, said 3 part surgery - 1 lamenectomy, 2 fusing of discs, 3 metal rods and pins.
Now, I think it is just arthritis that has taken over my whole body. I work full-time for a Doctor, who understands my limits. I walk with a cane any length of walk (hallways, out to car, grocery shopping, etc.). The pain by the end of the day is sometimes unbearable. But, I have to keep trying, moving and going on with my life. My husband is wonderful.
I had my surgery Sept 2010. I had L4,L5, an S1 fused. Also had bone cage put in because mine where badly damage. I fell on a job back in 1999. I was 37 when I had it done. I'm able to move around, walk with little to no pain. But I can only walk or stand for so long. The only part that I'm having with now is my nerves are mest up because there was calcuim build up around the lift side. My surgery was to take 6 hrs but took 8. 3 hrs after my surgery I was up and walk 12 ft. 8 hrs later I walked 40 ft. Second day I was already of the pain meds and setting up on my own. My doctor was very suprised to see me sitting in a chair. He had never seen someone deal with pain like I do. I was home in 3 days. 10 years of having this pain my body got used to it. So this was easy for me to deal with. But sometimes I wish I never had this done. it's been almost 3 years now and I still can't left more the 40lbs with out falling over. I can't sit in hard chairs. I can't stand for more then an a hr with out some sort of pain . Im still not able to work because of my nervis system being mest up do to the surgery. I'd thing twice before doing this. Look at what good it will do and what bad. Im not saying dont have it done. Im glade I did. I can bend and touch my toes now with hardly any pain. before my surgery I couldn't even tie my shoes because the pain was so bad. Also don't waste time like I did. 10 years after the fact that over the years it got worse and worse. And 4 doctors and hundreds of visit later I had it done. My doctor told me that I will never beable to work a normal job. I worked factor's for years. That is long gone now. Any thing I do is limited. Driving, sitting, walking, even swimming. I have my life back but at a cost. Before my surgery I lost about 68% movement. After , Im up to 80%. If you have any question's e-mail me
. Put in Refernce too Spinal Surgery. Thanks you..